In a recent article on, Meg Schwarzman, Associate Director of the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry asks, “How could the laccase enzyme found in plants and fungi help Levi Strauss & Co. keep a sharp crease in their brand of wrinkle-free khakis?”

It’s one replacement for formaldehyde in permanent press fabrics investigated by an interdisciplinary group of University of California, Berkeley graduate students taking the Greener Solutions course offered by the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry. Schwarzman describes this and several other projects that the cross-disciplinary program has taken on with industry partners in the last few years. The UC Berkeley Greener Solutions course is unique in both the partnership with industry, specific focus on industrial chemical issues and potential green chemistry solutions, and the multi-disciplinary approach to problem-solving. The example of finding an alternative to formaldehyde in textile treatments has a huge market potential and replaces a known human carcinogen. Global formaldehyde production is now greater than 52 million metric tons, and the biggest market uses are building materials and textile treatments.

Read more about Greener Solutions and the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry here, and help us think about how to scale this approach to find better solutions to industrial chemical use that currently have enormously detrimental effects to human health and the environment.